A business plan is not only essential when applying for business finance, it’s also an opportunity to record your vision. So create one today by downloading our business plan toolkit, and then follow these five steps.
Have you ready checked your business idea? From developing your business plan to preparing for the future, we can help refine your business idea. In a few clicks, you’ll know how your business idea is tracking.
Everything you’d want to tell a potential investor, partner, employee or customer should be here, including:
- Vision statement – should be brief and aspirational, yet achievable. Take the time to get it right
- Unique selling proposition (USP) – sets out why you believe customers will keep coming to you rather than a competitor
- Target market identification – you can increase your chances of success by targeting a well-defined niche
- Explanation of products and services – show they have been designed in line with your USP and to meet the needs of your target market
- Outline of key goals – must be measurable, achievable and consistent with the financial plan
- Capital requirements – if using the plan to apply for a loan, state how much you need and what it’s for. Amounts should be supported by calculations in the financial plan
This fleshes out your vision. Elements to include are:
- History and structure – outline the background and introduce key people like shareholders, directors, managers and staff
- SWOT analysis – put your business model to the test by identifying the Strengths and Weaknesses of your idea and potential Opportunities and Threats
- Business assets – identify what you have and what you need, including premises, plant and equipment, information systems, intellectual property, licences and insurance
- Goals and milestones – set out major business goals for the period covered by the plan, plus various milestones along the way. Make them specific and measurable
- Business strategies – include marketing, sales and customer retention strategies
Put your business model through its paces by weighing up:
- The competitive landscape – include detailed information on the industry, the size and characteristics of your target market and competitor strengths and weaknesses
- Financial forecasts – include outlines of your start-up costs and capital requirements, cash flow, profit and loss and balance sheet forecasts, and a break-even analysis
Reconsider your business model in the light of your market research and financial projections. Ask yourself:
- How can I counter the strengths of my competitors?
- How can I overcome the weak points in my business plan?
- Do the assumptions I’ve made based on various financial projections make sense?
As this advice has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs, you should, before acting on the advice, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. View our Financial Services Guide (PDF 59kb).